Man says alligator found in Prior Lake, Minnesota was his escaped pet

Weeks after a young Minnesota girl found an alligator near her grandparents' home, a man said the reptile was his pet that escaped months ago.

He says the dwarf caiman alligator went missing from its outdoor enclosure in July and after weeks of searching, he still didn’t know where it went until he heard the news that his neighbor found it dead on the shore. 

Matthew Hudson said he bought the alligator at a show in Bloomington about two years ago. He also said he has owned similar reptiles in the past. He built an outdoor enclosure for the alligator, named Big Head, but after a storm blew some debris into the enclosure, Big Head escaped. 

“Anybody who keeps reptiles and amphibians, this is the worst nightmare that you can have,” Hudson said. 

He said he looked for Big Head in the water for weeks. At one point his fiancé said she saw it back in its enclosure in August, but it went missing again. Hudson said he told an animal rescue group about the escaped alligator and they told him to keep the disappearance on the down low. 

“What do you say to your neighbors? ‘Hey I’m missing a pet alligator or caiman or whatever?’ Yeah right,” Hudson said. 

In October, a 9-year-old girl named Quinlynn found the dead alligator washed up on shore in front of her grandparent’s house a few doors down from Hudson's home. They called the Minnesota DNR to come check out the creature. 

“I’ve dealt with a lot of snakes and those kinds of creatures, but never an alligator,” DNR Conservationist James Fogarty said. 

He told the family to keep the alligator in the freezer until he could come pick it up. 

“I knock on the door and I’m figuring it’s something that’s going to be as long as a human leg,” Fogarty said. 

The alligator ended up being about 27 inches. Fogarty said it’s now in possession of the DNR. He said they will test the alligator to make sure it isn’t carrying any diseases that could be dangerous for other animals in the lake. 

Fogerty said since the incident is still under investigation he can’t comment on specifics of this case. He said the DNR did not have any reports of a missing alligator. He did say that dwarf caiman alligators are legal to own. He said owners are required to notify the DNR if an animal like this goes missing. 

Hudson says he and his family will miss their beloved pet Big Head. He said he doesn’t plan on getting another reptile any time soon and says he feels bad for the animal and the scare it might have caused. 

“I take a lot of responsibility for the situation as is, and that was horrifying,” Hudson said.

For more information on rules and regulations of owning pets, check out the Board of Animal Health site here, or the Minnesota State Statute.